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DT-04 Broken Spring

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    DT-04 Broken Spring

    Spring Break has arrived and our heroes make their plans for their mini-vacations. But will all go as planned, or will there be surprises and unexpected twists to deal with along the way?

    "Dunmore Tales"

    DT-04 Broken Spring
    By Darrel James VanWinkle

    Chapter 01

    The late March spring sun melted off all of the snow and improved life on Kingdom U campus. Though every student knew what spring brought...

    Spring Break!

    Many students were busying themselves for their vacations. Dennis Andrews awoke to find another note from Shaq. Dennis was almost getting tired of seeing these things. He read this one.


    I went to study with Zu'larr and Elizakat.
    Be back late; don't wait up on me.


    His roommate, Shaquil Pernardo, had flipped out when he had joined that Anachronism Club, a campus social group who were bonkers over medieval lifestyles. Dennis was beginning to miss his foul mouthed tabby cat friend.

    Dennis poked his head into Lindsay and Joey's bedroom, and grinned when he saw Lindsay cuddling a sleeping Joey. Lindsay smiled to Dennis and motioned for him to come in. Dennis walked on in and sat on the edge of the bed.

    Dennis slyly asked, "Did you sleep with him?"

    Lindsay replied with a wink, "Not yet. You know you have first dibs on that privilege."

    Joey murmurred, "Jus' cause Ah 'ave me 'ead in Lindsay's lap, don' mean that Ah can't 'ear ya guys."

    Dennis laughed. "I'm glad you both are still here. I was wondering if you two would be interested in coming back to my hometown with me for Spring Break. I go home every year, but its otherwise a very lonely trip. I could use the company."

    Lindsay asked, "Why don't you take Shaq?"

    Dennis sighed, and showed the note to Lindsay. "All Shaq cares about anymore are his medieval friends, Zu`larr and Elizakat. So, Shaq isn't around to take."

    Lindsay sighed. "Joey and I already made plans, Dennis. I'm really sorry. Say... why don't you ask Smokey? He's a bachelor and probably has time to be your escort."

    Dennis smiled. "Yeah, Smokey. This is why I am glad you're my friend, Lindsay. You are fleet of thought and ready to help out if you have free time to do so."

    Joey murmurred again, "If ya'll don' stop yer yap'n, Ah'll be forced to go feral on yas."

    Chapter 02

    Colin packed his suitcase, looking forward to this break away from college. Most of his thoughts were on his parents and his siblings, but he mainly thought about what Aiden was going to be doing during the spring break. Colin knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that he didn't want to spend spring break with Rick. The Mooneys were planning a surfing and yachting holiday.

    Colin zipped closed his suitcase, then picked up his phone and called Aiden's number.

    After a few rings, Aiden's answering machine came on. "Hi, this is Aiden. I am not here right now, but if you leave me a message, I'll do my best to get back to you."

    After the beep, Colin exclaimed, "Aiden, this is Colin. I just wanted to tell you that I am leaving my dorm room now, heading to the bus stop. Spring break is beginning and I'll be at my parent's place in case you need anything. The number is..." Colin recited the phone number. "Thank you for being such a very good friend. By the way, I still have your raccoon underwear. Take care, and I'll see you when I return." Colin hung up the phone.

    Colin grabbed his suitcase and headed for the bus stop.

    Aiden blushed cutely when he listened to the message recording. He sighed, "Yes, spring break should be exciting. My mom is supposed to be picking me up soon. I hope my old high school buddies are still around."

    Aiden picked up his two suitcases and headed out of his dorm building. He almost ran right into Duma.

    Duma smiled. "Hey, I'm glad I caught you, Aiden... I was wondering... could I spend spring break with you? My family is all caught up in a funeral and a wedding at the same time, and rather than spend my time crying or laughing, I'd like to spend the time with you."

    Aiden smiled. "I don't mind. Grab your suitcase and we'll wait for my mom to get here."

    Duma grinned and kissed Aiden on the cheek. "I'll be right back!"

    Duma ran off to get his suitcases. Aiden was waiting for Duma to return, when Aiden's mom pulled up in the family station wagon. Duma came running up, panting, and Aiden introduced Duma to his mom. Duma was very polite. Aiden and Duma piled in and they were on their way.

    Rick and Becky loaded Rick's sportscar with their luggage and gear. They, too, were looking forward to their outing.

    Rick grinned. "Two whole weeks without Jade! Man, have I ever earned this vacation!"

    Becky chuckled and playfully slapped Rick's shoulder. "Jade isn't that bad! Besides, it's in the past. Just think ahead to the surfing and yachting. And the other pretty girls..."

    Rick grinned again. "You're right. Two whole weeks to forget about everything!"

    Chapter 03

    Jade put the last of her bags into the back of her caravan and turned to look at the university. "Why must I go home? My father just doesn't understand that I don't care about the family fortune." Jade ponders the long lonely drive home.

    "Such a pretty face shouldn't be looking so glum, Jade."

    Jade blinked her eyes and turned to her left rapidly... becoming almost nose-to-nose with Franklin, who was wearing his campus security uniform. Jade tried hard not to embarrass herself, but she just couldn't stop herself from lolling her forked tongue and panting.

    Franklin smiled and petted Jade's scaly jaw. "Would you like an escort, Jade? Evidently, I have nowhere to go during this Spring Break and everyone else is doing their own thing."

    Jade pulled her tongue back into her mouth. "Sure, you can escort me... but aren't you afraid that I'll try something with you?"

    Franklin mentally grinned. "A true lady refrains from such activities. If you tried anything, that would prove that you're not a true lady and we wouldn't want your father to see that, now would we?"

    Jade smiled. "Okay. Get in and we'll be on our way."

    Franklin nodded his esteemed muzzle and got into the customized caravan surprised over how much leg room they had, but the caravan would have to be customized for people as large as Jade and Franklin. Jade started the vehicle and they were soon off on the long trip.

    Dennis knocked on Smokey's door at Smokey's home. When the door opened, Smokey stood there on crutches with one leg bandaged up. Dennis blinked his eyes. "What happened to you?"

    Smokey grinned. "Toby and I were wrestling the other night and he placed me into a new hold he had been working with and he and I twisted the wrong way... and we both got hurt."

    Dennis sighed. "So, I don't guess you'd be interested in riding with me back to my home town, would you?"

    Smokey hummed. "You need some chatting company? I can do that. As long as you promise that I'll be left alone to rest after we get there, I'll ride with you."

    Dennis smiled and hugged Smokey hugely. "Thank you. I really didn't want to make this trip all by myself."

    Smokey nodded his head. "Let me pack some necessary things, then we can be on our way."

    Dennis helped Smokey pack some belongings. Then, Smokey grabbed his guitar case and music portfolio, and carefully got into the backseat of Dennis' convertible. Dennis and Smokey were soon on their way, with Smokey playing the guitar directly behind Dennis' head.

    Chapter 04

    Lindsay and Joey carried their luggage out to the hillside where Ivorastej, their personal white stag friend, awaited them.

    Joey was grinning ear-to-ear. "Two 'ole weeks 'elpin' muh Uncle Reed! Am Ah ever lookin' forward to this!"

    Lindsay smiled. "I am sure he'll be pleased to see you, Joey."

    Joey glanced to Lindsay. "Ya never said what you were goin' ta be doin' durin' all this, Lindsay."

    Lindsay smiled. "Believe it or not, Reed arranged for me to take some martial arts lessons in San Francisco and see the sights with a friend of his. I think Reed wants to spend some quality time with you, Joey. Alone. I also think that he has a schedule drawn up for helping you with the were gene thing. And it'd be dangerous if I were there or so Reed made it sound."

    Joey hugged Lindsay, licking Lindsay's cheek. "Thank ya for bein' muh friend."

    Lindsay kissed Joey's nose.

    Then, they continued to where Ivorastej awaited them. The young white stag appeared to be like he always looked. Then again, all white stags of his herd looked almost exactly alike. "I am pleased to see you both again. Are you ready for your escort?"

    Lindsay and Joey both nodded their heads and got on Ivorastej's back. The white stag opened the shimmering air gate and hopped through it.

    Candlewisp walked into the chamber where Zu`larr, Elizakat and Shaq were sitting. The hippogriff tilted his head, and grinned. "The coast is clear. All the other students are gone. Let's start moving Shaquil into Mynotalis Hall."

    Shaq glanced at Candlewisp. "Who will be taking my place in Dennis' room at Ycehart Hall?"

    Candlewisp arched an eye. "Why do you care?"

    Shaq replied, "Even though Dennis teased me and hurt my feelings, he is still a friend. This is Dennis' last year of college. I wouldn't want to hurt him like he hurt me. Or else, I wouldn't be a better person, would I?"

    Candlewisp smiled. "You're a good tabby cat, Shaquil. The person taking your place is a pretty nice hellhound who is majoring in computer sciences. You will likely see him in a lot of your classes. His name is Elric Whitepaw. He also studies martial arts, acupuncture, and TPS (Theoretical Prediction Sciences). All in all, from what I understand, he's easy to get along with and likes humans. That should be a bonus with Lindsay."

    Shaq nodded his head, and their group headed out to retrieve Shaq's belongings.

    Chapter 05

    Warneeri and Huckleberry sat under a tree on campus on a picnic blanket spread, enjoying the moment and watching Shaq and his Mynotalis friends entering Ycehart Hall with dolleys and a small golf cart. Warneeri blinked her eyes, and asked, "What _ARE_ they doing?"

    Huck grinned. "I think Shaq is moving out of Ycehart, behind Dennis' back." Huck then got serious. "Dennis isn't as secure as Shaq might believe. Dennis jokes around to hide his real problems, whatever those problems are. And having Shaq around is a form of therapy."

    Warneeri hummed. "If this is true, then Dennis might lose it when he comes back and finds Shaq gone. And what would Dennis do as a result?"

    Huck replied, "I think after the shock passed, he might do something stupid in his grief. We'll likely have to get involved to make sure Dennis retains an ounce of sanity."

    While across the campus at Rodney and Toby's house...


    The young coyote stood wide-eyed at the broken china bowl. "Um... okay."

    Toby was starting to growl again, when Rodney said, "That old bowl? We were going to replace it anyway..." Rodney winked at the boy, then whispered to Toby. "Don't scare him, love. I promised my brother I'd watch out for him for the next two weeks."

    Toby whispered back, "If Nestor breaks one more thing, you'll be taking care of him 'by yourself' for the next two weeks. That was my favorite bowl."

    Rodney smiled, "I'll take him outside. It's not raining anymore." Rodney turned to Nestor. "Hey! Let's take the ball outside and score a few goals!"

    Nestor grinned, grabbed his coat and dashed for the door, with Rodney following him.

    Toby sighed, and knelt to examine the broken china bowl. "I'm sorry, mom. I know you made me promise to take care of this bowl..." Toby silently started picking up the pieces.

    Rudolph and Gusto were playing Strip Monopoly in their room. Gusto was losing, but really didn't mind losing. Otters love the water, so being nude gives you attitude, as Gusto would say. Gusto grinned at Rudolph, when Rudolph hit Boardwalk right after had erected condominiums on that property. Okay, so they had modified the rules, a little.

    Rudolph started counting up his money for payment, when Gusto said, "We should do something really creative this year, Rudy. How about we try staying awake for two weeks."

    Rudolph grinned. "And the loser has to attend all his classes for two days like a non-morphic animal... That sounds like fun. You're on! This is going to be a blast!"

    Chapter 06

    Colin's bus arrived in his home town, and he got off the bus with his suitcase in hand. He smiled as he looked around his old home territory. "Feels nice to be home. I better go check in with my folks. Funny, they didn't answer my phone calls. I hope everything is okay."

    Colin caught the town transit bus over into his home neighborhood.

    When Colin arrived on the correct street, he quickly saw why his calls had not been returned. The whole block was now a shopping center. "Um... where is my house?" Colin stood there in shock for some time, until someone tapped Colin on the shoulder.

    "Colin Young?"

    Colin turned around and smiled when he saw old man Troy Forbes, an elderly puma. "Mr. Forbes. I just got in from college for Spring Break. Where is my house? What is going on here?"

    Troy hugged Colin and replied, "After the tornado wiped out the neighborhood, the following fires leveled the rest of the debris. Then, a corporate shopping magnate came in, bought all the land and built this shopping center. Your parents and their neighbors were paid for the properties, then, they moved to the other side of town, over where I live. I was over here buying groceries, and happened to see you. Want a lift to your parent's new house?"

    Colin nodded his head. "Yes please. Thank you."

    Colin got into Troy's station wagon, and Troy drove them across town to his parent's new house.

    Paradise Marina was a pretty sunny locale, as Rick and Becky loaded up the family's cruising yacht. Becky smiled as she kissed the boat.

    Rick grinned as he secured the surfboards and food supplies. "I can't believe we're finally here. Just you and me, and the magnificent view. And no Jade!"

    Becky grinned back. "Will you just forget about Jade? She's probably half-way back to her father's estate by now. Please try to relax, Rick."

    Rick nodded his head, as he checked the engine of the yacht. "I know I should be relaxing. I am very edgy after I had to deal with all those problems. Engine looks great." Rick closed the hatch, and headed to the radio room, and called the coast guard. "Hello? This is the Twin Moons. We'd like a weather report for the sound off of Paradise Marina."

    The coast guard radioed back with the reply. "The weather looks pretty good for the next few days, but there is a system that we're keeping an eye on. But for now, if you're on vacation, enjoy the weather to it's fullest."

    Rick turned the radio off and poked his head out of the radio room. "Becky... Weather will be good for the next few days. Thumbs up from the Coast guard."


      Chapter 07

      Once Mrs. Harris had made sure Aiden and Duma were comfortable at home, she then left the house, going to work. Aiden and Duma ate some cookies and drank some milk. Then, Aiden led Duma out the back door of the house, across a field, and into a wooded area, where a large clubhouse stood, nestled between some thick trees. Nearby, a swimming hole was clearly visable, and old fashioned rope swings. Aiden smiled, as he rapped on the door-plate with a handy rock.

      When the door opened, a short skinny weasel boy stood, wearing cut-off faded denim shorts. "Hey! Aiden! You're back!" The weasel hugged Aiden tightly.

      Aiden blushed, then held out the bag of cookies. "I had to make my membership payment, like I promised. A whole bag of cookies. By the way, this is my friend, Duma, from college."

      Duma smiled and shook the weasel's fuzzy hand. "Pleased to meet you."

      The weasel grinned and hugged Duma tightly too. "Come on in! We were about to start the meeting. You can meet all of us." He led Aiden and Duma into the spacious clubhouse where the other youthful boys were sitting around, relaxed and wearing only shorts, or less. The weasel handed the bag of cookies to a slender tho muscular moose, saying, "Aiden came back and brought us a membership payment, and a cute friend!"

      The moose smiled and kissed Aiden's cheek, then kissed Duma's cheek, as well. "Welcome back, Aiden. We all heard you introduce your friend as Duma. As long as he brings no females here, then he is welcome to come here whenever he likes. We were about to start our weekly meeting, but I think introductions should be given first. I am Montgomery, or rather, Monty."

      The weasel grinned. "I am Solomon, or Sol, in the club."

      A young athletic husky spoke up next. "I am Hacket, or Hack. I love computers."

      Over in the corner, a teenaged fawn sat with a teenaged goat. The fawn said, "I am Elkanah, or Elk the Tracker."

      The goat smiled and said, "You can call me Ace, but my full name is Acer Ambrosius. And we all make up the Fauns of Romulus... and... well..." He was blushing.

      Duma asked, "Why are you blushing?"

      Monty ahem'ed. "We're a... we prefer... um... guys..."

      Duma grinned happily! "That's great! Me too!"

      Aiden blushed.

      Duma and Aiden sat down next to the others, and Monty got the club meeting started, discussing various topics, and asking Duma about himself.

      Chapter 08

      Reed Huxley had Joey deep in the King Mountain Range of Humboldt County California. It was the perfect location for a young werebeast to progress through his feral urges without hurting anyone. Reed smiled as Joey got unpacked at the secluded cabin. "Two weeks of glorious California wilderness ta 'elp ya get through your were-gene problems."

      Joey smiled, as he put his portable picture of himself, Lindsay, Dennis and Shaq on his nightstand. "Ah don' want ta lose control, uncle Reed. It scares me."

      Reed also smiled. "Well, it's always a little scary when ya aren't sure what ta expect. First things first, Joey. Ah want ya ta shift fully into yer kangaroo form."

      Joey nodded his head, and initiated the change. Joey shifted from humanoid werekangaroo into his full teenaged kangaroo form.

      The moment Joey was in his full kangaroo form, Reed called out, "Okay... ya can come in now."

      Joey blinked his eyes as a young and pretty female werekangaroo hopped into the room. She approached Joey, and touched her nose to his. Joey's complexion turned pale. This scared him more than being feral. "Uncle Reed... who is this?"

      The pretty female smiled and gently kissed Joey's cheek, before withdrawing back towards the door, where she bumped into an adult female werekangaroo. The adult smiled and said, "Ya're right, Reed. 'e _is_ the strapping young buck. And as shy as a bunny."

      Reed smiled, winking to the adult female. "Aye, Joey is one of a kind, Mattie. Tho, yer little sheila, Darcy Anne, is also quite the looker."

      Joey trembled, feeling scared and... hungry... "Reed... what is going on?"

      Reed turned to Joey again. "What's going on, is that Mattie and I both 'ad the same idea. 'er daughter is going through 'er were-gene feral stage, too. You and Darcy Anne are going ta get through this problem together. No arguments, Joey. It'll be fun, ya'll see."

      Joey muttered quietly, "...ah don't want ta 'ave a girlfriend; ah just want Lindsay..."

      Darcy Anne reapproached Joey and whispered, "Ah don' want ta have a boyfriend either. My mom thought Ah'd want ta be with a roo me own age."

      Joey smiled at that. "Thanks. My name is Joseph, tho everyone calls me Joey. Nice ta meet ya, Darcy Anne." Joey shook paws with Darcy Anne.

      Darcy Anne shook paws, then kissed Joey again. "That's for luck, Joey."

      Reed and Mattie both grinned. It seemed to them that this little excursion was getting off to a good start. Only eleven more days to deal with. The night of the full moon was in seven.

      Chapter 09

      Lindsay's martial arts classes in San Francisco, California were pretty nice. The Foo-Ching's were the nicest teachers Lindsay had ever had. Though on this particular day, Lindsay and his escort, a young man named Chong Shou, were having a picnic near the Fort Point National Historical Site. It was a nice, calm and quiet day. The sky was clear; the sunlight was warm.

      All was well, one could tell... the day was free of grief. When a thug of plunder, ran past like thunder... a mob followed yelling, "STOP THIEF!"

      Lindsay and Chong both blinked their eyes, watching the chase ensue over much of the park. It seemed odd that the pursuit kept passing through this particular area.

      Finally, as the thug made his approach towards the picnic spot a final time, Chong and Lindsay grabbed the edges of the picnic blanket and thrust the blanket tight and up, tripping the thug, causing the man dressed like a pirate to hit the ground, face first. Chong and Lindsay quickly wrapped the picnic blanket around the 'pirate', and tied it securely, just as the mob of teenagers, with a police officer in tow, converged on the scene.

      The teen aged girl, dressed in the designer jaguar bikini outfit, exclaimed, "Now to unmask this phoney ghost pirate!" She reached over and pulled off the fake rubber mask and pirate captain's hat, revealing a slender clean-cut man wearing a padded pirate costume.

      The teen aged boy, dressed in a white magician's outfit, exclaimed, "It's Mr. Mylton, the marina financing consultant!"

      The teen aged girl, dressed in the garb of a Los Angeles street gangster's clothes, said, "Of course! It all makes sense now! Mr. Mylton told us that the pirate's last appearance was around Fort Point here in San Francisco. At the time, he told us that he'd never been to Fort Point, himself, yet he had that cute Fort Point souvenir in his coat pocket. At the time, we didn't know who's coat that belonged to, but later, we all saw Mr. Mylton wearing that coat. Minus the souvenir. The only way to get that souvenir is to take the Fort Point tour, which we all did in order to search the area for clues. Him having the souvenir proved that he lied to us, and had in fact, been to Fort Point."

      The teen aged boy, dressed in high designer, upper class clothing, then said, "What I can't figure out is why he was searching the park at this location. I mean, there is literally nothing here. People have picnics here all the time."

      Mr. Mylton growled with a sneer, "I stole a fortune in diamonds and buried them here in the park on a dark foggy night. But when I returned to get them several nights later, I couldn't find the spot where I buried the diamonds. The marker must've been moved."

      The police officer grinned. "If you mean the Kontiki Statue, then yes, it was moved. The night you buried the diamonds was the night before that gathering. When the gathering was over with, they moved the statue back over into it's own area. That would mean that you buried the diamonds three paces from the edge of the east audience stands."


        Chapter 10

        The girl with the jaguar-skin bikini said, "Then, let's go dig it up. Getting those diamonds will cinch this case."

        Their group escorted Mr. Mylton off toward the event gathering location. Lindsay and Chong followed the group. Hey, that picnic blanket was THEIRS! They wanted it back, of course.

        After some minor digging, the police officer held up the bag, and opened it. Inside were the fortune in diamonds. "Right where Mr. Mylton had buried them. You kids deserve a reward."

        All four quickly exlaimed loudly, "NO!"

        The girl with the jaguar skin bikini quickly said, "What we mean is... we don't want any publicity! We were just happy to help..." She then whispered something to the police officer, who paled somewhat, then the girl said, " do understand, don't you? We're just glad we could be of service."

        The police officer was still pale from the whispered message, as he removed the picnic blanket from Mr. Mylton, then placed handcuffs on Mr. Mylton's wrists. "Come along, Mr. Mylton. I am sure the judge will have some nice words for you." The police officer led Mr. Mylton away.

        Chong retrieved the picnic blanket, as Lindsay approached the four teenagers. "Who are you guys? You sound like junior sleuths."

        The girl with the jaguar skin bikini replied, "I'm Trina Tracker. The boy in white is Mark Merlin. The street babe is Victoria Lane. And the rich kid is Alexander Hazard. We're all from Los Angeles. Who are you?"

        Lindsay smiled. "I am Lindsay Dunmore from Montana. He's Chong Shou, my escort while I am in San Francisco. I've been taking some martial arts classes during my Spring Break. Um... what did you tell the police officer to make him turn pale like that?"

        Trina grinned. "Just that my father is the head of the bounty hunting Tracker Corporation. You see, we don't want any publicity for what we do because our parents would seperate us if they found out that we were doing any of this sometimes dangerous stuff."

        Lindsay said, "Oh, I see. It was a pleasure to meet you guys. What will you do now?"

        As if on cue, an adult, studly male Italian, called out to the group, "If you're ready to go, I have the Rolls Royce nearby."

        Trina called back, "Thanks Vinnie! We'll be right there." Trina glanced to Lindsay. "That's Vinnie Cabriano. He's a bodyguard who works for a friend of ours. It was nice meeting you. And thanks for helping us catch Mr. Mylton." Trina kissed Lindsay's cheek, then she and the others rushed off toward where Vinnie was awaiting them. (Their adventures will continue later in their own story setting, called Hazardous Materials.)

        Chapter 11

        Jade and Franklin arrived at the old southern plantation estate that Jade's family owned. The name interwoven into the arch over the driveway's entrance clearly read, Uhtlicue. It was a large and plentiful estate, and quite beautiful. Jade slowly parked the caravan, as two large lizards wearing black zootsuits, and carrying tommyguns, approached the caravan. One of the two looked in Jade's window and smiled, "Hey, Auntie Jade! Glad to see you again!" He turned to his partner and said, "It's okay. It's the boss' daughter, that pyre of volcanic might, Jade."

        Jade blushed upon hearing the bodyguard say that.

        Franklin blinked his eyes at the guns and was beginning to have thoughts. (Lizard mobsters. I hope this outing doesn't turn out bad.)

        Jade and Franklin unpacked the caravan, and carried Jade's luggage into the mansion.

        Jade's father, the elderly gecko, was sitting in his office going over estate business. Jade walked in and gently kissed her father. "Hello father. I'm home for spring break. Um, this is my escort, Franklin Murdock. He works with campus security at Kingdom U." Jade looked to Franklin, "May I present my humble, tho powerful, father... Giovani Uhtlicue."

        Franklin didn't grovel upon meeting with Giovani. "Hello sir. Just call me Franklin."

        Giovani narrowed his eyes at Franklin and asked, "Are you dating my daughter?"

        Franklin growled, "Hell no! I'm just her escort. To make sure she didn't get hurt coming here and returning to the university."

        Giovani smiled and winked. "Ah good. It is pleasing to meet someone who isn't timid, like most of Jade's friends always seem to be."

        Franklin stiffened up and folded his arms, turning his nose up a bit. "I am a gentleman! It would not be proper to demean and grovel to the families of my friends."

        Giovani nodded his head, still smiling.

        Jade was sure this was not boding well. No one had ever stood up to her father before.

        Giovani said, "Jade? Go out to the stables and say hello to your cousin Coral Uhtlicue. I am sure she'll be pleased to see you."

        Jade actually made a sickeningly putrid face. "Do I have to? She has no class whatsoever! She'd sleep with the hounds, given a chance!"

        Giovani growled a little, shooting a look at Jade.

        Jade cringed immediately. "Yes father." Jade headed out the door to go see Coral.

        Chapter 12

        After Jade had left the office, Giovani snapped his fingers, and a very tall chameleon entered the office. He was easily Franklin's height, but didn't have the muscular profile Franklin had.

        "You wanted to see me, Giovani?"

        Giovani nodded his head. "Kameel? I want you to study Franklin. In detail. Franklin? You'll be sharing a room with Kameel. Like you, Kameel is a gentleman. Though more importantly, Kameel is Jade's fiance`. Jade was promised to him when they were kids. After Jade went through puberty, she drifted further and further apart from Kameel. Jade gave her word that she'd marry Kameel. We Uhtlicues live by a code of honor, regardless of age. Jade swore a promise, and she must abide by that promise. Failing to do so would show that Jade is no lady."

        Kameel nodded his head, as he looked at Franklin. "The contract was verbal, though public. Giovani himself heard her say it as Jade kissed me for the first time. It was a wonderful moment. My heart almost broke when Jade pulled that farce with Rick Mooney. But Rick turned out to be a gentleman, as well, and came and told us the truth."

        Franklin hummed. "And now, Jade comes home with a more suitable candidate for marriage. Me. And you're worried that Jade will try to use me as another reason for not marrying. Well, you can rest assured. She does interest me; I would be lying to say she didn't... though she is far more interesting when she is awestruck in silence. But I have no plans on marrying Jade." Franklin transformed back into his human form. "As you can see, I am not even a true draconian. I am a human who is the son of law enforcers." Franklin transformed into his draconian form, once again. "I am in the Furry Realms studying the laws of the people who live here."

        Giovani hummed, thoughtfully. "And I imagine that my sweet Jade doesn't know that you're human, does she?"

        Franklin simply smiled and shook his head.

        Giovani was actually chuckling! "Oh, this is so rich! Jade doesn't have a clue! Oh, but wait... you said you were studying laws, correct?"

        Franklin nodded his head.

        Giovani hummed again. "I'll make you a deal, Franklin. I'll provide you with a whole collection of law books, real law books, mind you, in exchange for you doing something legal for me... Are you interested?"

        Franklin arched an eye. "I'm interested. What do you want?"

        Giovani glanced to Kameel.

        Kameel nodded his head and transformed into almost the exact same likeness as Franklin. "The deal is, you help me to perfect my change into your form."


          Chapter 13

          Jade arrived at the stables and entered through the main doors. Just inside, Jade was tackled by an iguana female as large as Jade was. They wrestled around in the hay for a bit, before Jade body-slammed the other iguana into the hay!

          Jade grinned. "You almost had me, Coral."

          Coral just lay there laughing. Although they were cousins, Coral looked almost exactly like Jade. "You're stronger than last time, Jade. By the way, who was that stud you arrived with?"

          Jade grinned again, helping Coral up to her feet. "That was Franklin Murdock. He's with Kingdom U campus security. I sorta have a crush on him, but he's not interested in me, in that way. Franklin is a true gentleman."

          Coral smiled. "You don't say..." Coral hummed. "Is he perceptive?"

          Jade gave Coral one of her danger looks. "Yes, he is. What are you getting at?"

          Coral grinned. "I propose a test... or rather... a challenge... Franklin hasn't met me yet. For the next two weeks, I'll pretend to be you. Even dress like you, though you could always use some better clothing. The challenge is this: if Franklin can tell that I'm not you, then I lose. I'll return that gold locket of yours that you lost in one of our previous bets. But if I fool him right up to the last day, then I win and you have to give me those gold earrings that you know I like. What do you say? Oh, and you can't reveal to Franklin about what we're doing. In fact, it would be better if you weren't around, but I need you around to monitor the challenge, without being seen."

          Jade hummed. A chance to get that locket back. That locket had belonged to her mother, and she felt like a fool for using it as a bet. "Okay. You have yourself a bet. I happen to know that you spend an awful lot of time at the stables, so... what I'll do is have breakfast with everyone, then I'll tell Franklin that I want to see him at the stables later. When he comes out here, he'll meet you, and from then until the dinner call, you'll have all the time you need to fool him into thinking that you're me. But be warned. Franklin isn't stupid."

          Coral was already rubbing her hands together. "Oh, this will be a cinch! An easy bet."

          Jade just grinned. (That's what you think.)

          Coral grinned back. "We'll begin tomorrow morning. Now, you better head on back so no one gets to wondering if we killed each other. And remember: you can't tell anyone about this bet."

          Jade smiled, and shook Coral's hand. Then, Jade headed out of the stables, pondering thoughts to herself. (Somehow I have to fix it so that Franklin can tell the two of us apart. But how? If I just flat tell him, then I'll lose the bet. I have to do something that will reveal the difference without my saying anything. There just has to be a way...) Jade noticed a commercial van with the logo "Paelton's Painting Service." (Hmms... I think I just found the way...)

          Chapter 14

          Smokey waited in the car as Dennis took a bouquet of flowers out into a cemetery. Smokey pondered what Dennis was doing.

          Dennis slowly approached a shared tombstone, and knelt to one knee, as he lay the bouquet at the foot of the sacred marker. "Mom... Dad... It's me, Dennis. How are things?"

          Dennis waited for the obvious though silent reply, then said, "How am I? Well, my best friend has flipped out. I don't think he likes me anymore."

          Dennis waited for another silent response. "I know, Dad. He has to live his own life."

          Then, Dennis looked towards his mom's side of the grave. "Yes, Mom... I've been taking my medication."

          Dennis quietly wept as he knelt there.

          Smokey sat in the car. (Poor Dennis. He's crying. No wonder he needed company on this trip. Having to revisit the grave of his parents... could I do that?)

          Dennis finally returned to the car, got in and just sat there.

          Smokey carefully laid a paw on Dennis' shoulder. "Are you okay, Dennis?"

          Dennis sighed. "No, Smokey. I'm not okay."

          Smokey petted Dennis' shoulder. "Want to tell me about it?"

          Dennis sighed again and replied, "I have a major problem."

          Smokey pressed his paw into Dennis' shoulder.

          Dennis glanced back at Smokey. "Shaq was part of my medication, Smokey. He doesn't seem to care about me anymore... all he cares about is his anachronist buddies. Without Shaq... what do I have left?"

          Smokey asked, "You're on medication? I never knew that. Why are you taking medicine for?"

          Dennis sighed and handed Smokey the medicine bottle.

          Smokey carefully read over the prescription. "Great Kodiak! Is this for real, Dennis?"

          Dennis nodded his head, closing his eyes.

          Smokey handed the bottle back to Dennis. "I am so sorry, Dennis. Shaq probably has no idea that you have cancer."

          Chapter 15

          The weather started getting rough,
          their tiny ship was tossed;
          if not for the courage of it's fearless crew,
          the Twin Moons would be lost.
          The Twin Moons would be lost.
          They both struck ground on the shores of this,
          tiny desert isle...

          (Apologies to Gilligan's Island)

          Rick examined the hull of their broken yacht for the eighth time with a sigh.

          Becky was trying to build an emergency shelter further inland.

          This was not the way Rick wanted to spend his vacation. He had no idea if the Coast Guard had received their S.O.S. before the squall threw their boat into this sorry excuse of a land mass. "Oh man, dad is gonna kill us! That hole is large enough to drive a Toyota through."

          Becky stood a few feet behind Rick. "It only looks bad, Rick. Dad would be more happy that we didn't lose our lives." Becky patted Rick's shoulder. "Come on. I need your help erecting the shelter's walls and roof."

          Rick nodded his head. "Okay. Maybe the labor will take my mind off of this hole. I really hope our S.O.S. message got through to the Coast Guard. This isn't how I want to spend the next few weeks."

          Becky folded her arms and grinned. "Would you rather be stuck on this isle with Jade?"

          Rick YELPED! "Ick, no! Let's just get the shelter built!"

          Meanwhile... Back on the mainland...

          The large cutesy rainboy pony costume easily fit the both of them inside. Duma was the front legs and the head, while Aiden was the torso and back legs, giving Aiden a full grip around Duma's waist. Aiden blushed profusely when Duma volunteered them both to wear this costume at the visiting carnival, to raise a little spending money, Duma had said.

          Aiden whispered, "Duma? Why did we have to be naked inside this costume? Your tail is tickling my nose."

          Duma whispered back, "Because everyone knows that on a hot sunny day like today, if we were wearing clothing under this costume, we'd be sweating profusely, and I am sure we both don't want to challenge the other with B.O. that fast. Just be glad I didn't eat any bean dip."

          Aiden sighed and whispered, "If this wasn't for the little kids, I'd never have let you talk me into this. You're going to owe me for this."


            Chapter 16

            After Colin had visited with his parents and saw what few friends were left in town, Colin felt ready to return to Kingdom U. He just felt out of place in this town. It had changed so much in the last year's worth of time. Even after the tornado and fires, it just felt so alien to him. In fact... Colin missed Aiden the most. "Stupid coon."

            Colin packed his bags, said goodbye to his parents and headed for the bus stop. He hadn't been there long, when a sportscar pulled up to the curb and Colin heard a familiar voice.

            "Are packed bags, see I? Kingdom to go want you?"

            Colin smiled as he looked at the driver. Sitting there wearing transition lens sunglasses was the male cockatoo DJ who normally worked the control booth at the Reverse Polarity.

            Yeo Orlando smiled, "HiHi Colin! Get in!"

            Colin laughed, and tossed his bags into the back seat, and got into the sportscar. "Glad to see someone from campus. What are you doing out this way, Yeo?"

            Yeo grinned and started driving. "I am getting inspiration. And you?"

            Colin sighed. "I just finished a visit with my parents and what few friends I have left in this town. It's... changed so much... I just felt... homesick... for Kingdom campus..."

            Yeo aww'ed and patted Colin's shoulder. "I understand. My hometown is like that too. Everything's so different. It's like it's a whole other world and we're the aliens."

            Colin nodded to Yeo. "That's it exactly."

            Yeo nodded his head, focusing on the road ahead of them. "I know. That is why I spend my spring breaks seeking inspiration. I do have one more stop to make before Kingdom U, if you don't mind staying overnight with me at this place."

            Colin smiled. "Thanks, Yeo. Sounds like fun. Maybe I need to seek inspiration too."

            Soon, Yeo and Colin arrived at a private spa resort club, and Yeo paid for their entry. Yeo and Colin received massages, and later, a fine dinner.

            Afterwards, in their room, Yeo relaxed on the bed, smiling at Colin. "So... are you feeling any better, my foxy friend?"

            Colin smiled back and patted Yeo's feathery leg. "This was a lot of fun, Yeo. I feel a lot better than I had been earlier. Thanks for bringing me here."

            Yeo grinned, as he half rolled over to face Colin, hugging his college friend, fondly. "I am glad I ran into you, Colin. Spring break was starting to get pretty lonely."

            Chapter 17

            After having breakfast the next morning with the rest of the Uhtlicue family, Franklin had noticed a white stripe across Jade's muzzle and asked her what it was.

            Jade replied that it was some of the paint from where the painting crew was painting and she had accidentally got it on herself. Jade then told Franklin that she was going to go change clothes, and asked Franklin to meet her out in the stables.

            Franklin nodded his muzzle, and soon, was entering the stables. He was barely inside, when a lasso looped over his head and chest, and pulled tightly. "Hey! What's going on?"

            Standing on the other end of the rope was 'Jade' wearing different clothes, though the white stripe had evidently been cleaned off. 'Jade' smiled and replied, "I'm just playing around, Franklin. Don't you want to keep me entertained today? My father would be upset if you ignored me..." 'Jade' pulled Franklin close to herself, and indicated a saddle and a harness. ", today, we're going to play 'horsie'."

            Franklin blinked his eyes, shocked that 'Jade' was acting this way. But even as he complied to obey 'Jade''s requests, Franklin couldn't help but to wonder why 'Jade' wasn't acting so timid around him today, like she had just an hour earlier.

            Franklin was subjugated to several sensuous, masochist activities, as he let 'Jade' ride him all over the back forty of the estate. By that evening, 'Jade' and Franklin were back in the stables, where 'Jade' was releasing Franklin from the harness and saddle, allowing him to get dressed for the return to the estate house.

            Franklin was limping when he entered the back door of the mansion. He wanted to avoid encountering 'Jade' again. "Ow... she played rough."

            As Franklin was walking past the door to Giovani's office, the door was open just a hair, and Franklin peeked through the opening. Seated at the desk was Giovani and he was talking to Jade, who was wearing the clothing she had been wearing this morning, yet... there was something more... that paint stripe was still on Jade's muzzle. Franklin hummed and proceeded up to the room he had been sharing with Jade's fiance', Kameel.

            Kameel was pretty shocked when he saw the condition Franklin was in and helped Franklin over to the bed, then fetched the medical creams. "How did this happen to you, Franklin?"

            Franklin winced from the pain and replied, "'Jade' happened. She and I played 'horsie' today in the stables and all over the back side of the estate. She played rough and hurt me more than she thought."

            Kameel arched an eye at this. "Jade did this? Are you sure? I ask this, because Jade and I played chess all day today with Giovani watching us the whole time."

            Franklin hummed, once again and conferred with Kameel in detail about the events of the day.

            Chapter 18

            Kameel applied the healing creams, as he said, "I think they're playing a game with you."

            Franklin winced again. "They?"

            Kameel looked Franklin right in the eye. "Jade and Coral. They're cousins, but if you didn't know what to look for, you'd swear that they were identical twins."

            Franklin growled, then winced again. "I wonder what the game is?"

            Kameel grinned. "I'd say that they are trying to see if you can tell the difference between the two. The Jade we had breakfast with was the real Jade. She has that paint stripe over her muzzle. In fact, it looks like it was deliberately painted on, not an accident, like she claimed. Then, you went to the stables where you say you encountered Jade. But she had no stripe on her muzzle."

            Franklin nodded his muzzle. "I thought she had washed it off."

            Kameel laughed. "That paint can't be just washed off. It requires double strength turpentine to get it off and that's not all, Franklin... Even after it gets removed, Jade would have the turpentine smell on her for a few days after that. It's a dead give away."

            Franklin hummed. "Why are they doing this?"

            Kameel replied, "It's probably another dumb-dumb bet they have going, with a valuable prize attached. Tomorrow, we are going to do things differently... How are you at chess?"

            Franklin arched an eye. "I'm pretty good at it, actually. And I have an award from where I had attended a chess championship. Why do you ask?"

            Kameel shape changed into Franklin's likeness and replied, "Tomorrow, you pretend to be me, while I play you in the stables. If it's truly Jade in the stables, I'll know it in a heartbeat. But if it's Coral, I'll give her such a thrashing that she'll wish she never heard of Franklin Murdock."

            Franklin said, "You'll do that for me?"

            Kameel grinned. "...For a price, of course. I'll let you know later how you can pay me back."

            Franklin nodded his head, as Kameel continued to apply the healing cream and tender loving care. So... Jade and Coral were playing a game, were they?

            Franklin hummed, "Two can play that game."

            Kameel grinned. "You're right. I can see what you're thinking. The old switcheroo. Because I'm helping you now, I want you to help me set Jade up for something on the day before you and she have to return to the college. Jade has sorta promised that she'd do... something... with me."


              Chapter 19

              The scent of herbal tea wafted through the cafeteria of Rosethyme Hall.

              Kama Chan was wearing a stylish kimono with a simple lily flower secured over her left ear. Kama carried the tea tray over to her friend's table, and served them.

              Cordelia Tennyson, Marian Madani, Yeo Orlando and Colin Young all sat at the table, allowing Kama to serve them in oriental fashion.

              When Kama finished serving the others, she seated herself at the table, and said, "I am seated at the position of the rising sun. The sun has named me as Kama Chan. Of myself, I give to my friends." Kama then nodded her head to Marian, who was seated to Kama's right.

              Marian smiled and said, "When the sun is at it's zenith, I glisten to the far north. For I am the aurora borealis, which has named me as Marian Madani. Of myself, I give to my friends." Marian nodded her head to Yeo, who was seated to Marian's right.

              Yeo perked his beak and said, "Air of ocean, a riptide of currents. For nature of the sea of sky, the jetstream carries me forth. For it has named me as Yeo Orlando. Of myself, I give to my friends." Yeo nodded his head to Cordelia, who was seated to Yeo's right.

              Cordelia patted one of Yeo's feathered hands, and said, "I am seated in the southwest. The setting sun gives way to the coolness of relief. The setting sun has named me as Cordelia Tennyson. Of myself, I give to my friends." Cordelia nodded her head to Colin, who was seated to Cordelia's right.

              Colin um'ed and blushed slightly. He sweated a little, not wanting to mess up this ceremony. Then, Colin noticed Marian's gaze and smiled. She was mouthing, you can do this.

              Colin relaxed and said, "As the sun sleeps, er... the moon awakens to govern... the night... The moon alights the spark in mine eyes.. and gives forth the bounty for those who hunt in twilight...... The moon is my mistress, and she has named me as Colin Young. Of myself, I give to my friends." Colin nodded his head to Kama, who was seated to Colin's right.

              Kama smiled and said, "The circle has been made, and life is renewed. Lift your cups, my friends. This herbal tea we drink shall give us life to continue until the next year. For as long as we are friends, we shall endure, and life will be our guide."

              The five friends drank their tea, slowly, and set the cups down once again.

              Kama then said, "Thank you all for helping me renew my vows. It is very important for me. You were all very poetic. Especially you, Colin." Kama kissed Colin on the lips, very deeply.

              Colin blinked his eyes at the kiss, but he endured it. Kama was one of his more respectable friends. The kiss likely a way for her to convey her thanks. Better a kiss, than one of her body-crushing enthusiastic hugs.

              Chapter 20

              Mr. Sethnic sat in the bleachers of the empty football stadium, staring at his clipboard. He had been here for several hours. It was a quiet location, and one where he knew he wouldn't be bothered. Mr. Sethnic sighed, feeling horrible over the football fiasco during the previous winter. He knew he had stooped pretty low in regards to Lindsay Dunmore.

              "This isn't how I am. What was I thinking?"

              A calm voice suddenly spoke from somewhere close by, "You thought to abuse his form for the betterment of your game. You forgot that Lindsay was a person. You treated him like a tool."

              Mr. Sethnic lifted his head and glanced in the direction of the voice... but there was nothing there. "Oh great... now, I'm hearing things..."

              The calm voice replied, "I can assure you that you are quite sane, Lance Sethnic. I am as real as you are."

              Lance immediately stood up and backed away or tried to. "Who... who... are... you?"

              The calm voice replied, "I am the white stag. The original. You used Lindsay and now feel the consequences of your actions. How will you give reparations? In what form will the remedy issue forth?"

              Lance sighed, sitting back down. "I... I have to apologize to him... and ask him to forgive me... and try to be his friend again... Baseball season is coming up... but... I need help with it... after the football fiasco, it just seems like most of the campus has sided with Lindsay. He's far more popular than he knows. The students love him... as do I..."

              The white stag poked his head out of the shimmering air and replied, "Lindsay is likable, Lance. Lindsay and Joey are preparing to return to campus even as we speak. If you'd prefer, I can direct Lindsay here to you. He wouldn't dare refuse me."

              Lance sighed. "Very well. Lindsay and I do need to talk."

              Within a few moments, Lindsay and Joey emerged from the shimmering air on the football field. Lance walked down and into the field, to meet with them.

              Lance said, "Lindsay... I'm... I... I apologize... I tried to use you a few months ago... please forgive me... and... I like you... and I still need your help..."

              Lindsay set his luggage down and hugged Lance, gently. "You're a good coach, Mr. Sethnic. I forgive you. Don't beat yourself up like this." Lindsay petted Lance's neck fur. "You said you needed my help. In what way?"

              Lance smiled at the petting. "Lindsay... I want you to be the Kingdom U baseball team captain this year... but this time, we'll do this right... No more tricks... I promise..."

              Chapter 21

              Rick and Becky got out of their father's limousine at registration hall. Their father was thankfully happier that his children were not killed during that storm at sea.

              Yachts can be replaced. Lives cannot.

              Becky turned to Rick and said, "At least we're back, Rick. Why don't you head back to your dorm and take a long bath and try to get some rest. I need to go check in with Kama and the others."

              Rick nodded his head, feeling like crap. "Okay Becky."

              Rick and Becky parted company, each returning to their own dorms.

              As Rick was entering Ycehart Hall, he noticed a sleek male hellhound at the check-in desk. Rick walked over and said, "You're a new face here. I'm Rick Mooney. Who are you?"

              The hellhound glanced at Rick and smiled, revealing his pearly white fangs, as his red eyes glowed like fire. "Hello. I am Elric Whitepaw. Pleased to meet you. Shaquil Pernardo and I switched dorms recently."

              Rick blinked his eyes at this information. "He did? Oh no... stupid, stupid, stupid tabby..."

              Elric arched an eye. "What do you mean?"

              Rick looked directly at Elric and said, "I know some things about Dennis that Shaq doesn't know. Shaq's moving out will be a disaster. I swear it."

              Elric's eyes met Rick's eyes, in a most piercing way... as if the soul was revealed... then, Elric said, "I believe you. But it's not too late. We'll just get Shaq back into the building before Dennis gets back from his home journey."

              Just then, Dennis walked in through the front doors of Ycehart Hall, looking tired, and loosely focused on the elevator doors across the entry lobby.

              As Elric headed out fast to fetch Shaq, Rick quickly intercepted Dennis. "Hey, Dennis! Welcome back! Can I buy you a Cappachino? Or maybe you'd like a nice long massage?"

              Dennis turned his focus on Rick. "Okay, Rick... what are you up to this time?"

              Rick huh'ed? "I'm not up to anything, Dennis. I just wanted to welcome you back to campus. Good thing you didn't come with Becky and me. We wrecked the family yacht in a storm. We're lucky to be alive."

              Dennis made a sour face and folded his arms over his chest; Dennis wasn't buying it.

              Fortunately, Elric and Shaq returned at that moment. Dennis hugged Shaq fondly. "I missed you."


                Chapter 22

                Shaq dislodged himself from Dennis. "Please... don't..."

                Dennis said, "Huh? What's wrong, Shaq? I thought you'd be glad I was back."

                Shaq sighed, glancing back towards the front doors where Zu`larr and Elizakat waited on him. "Dennis... because you teased me to no end... I made arrangements... to exchange rooms with Elric... he's your new roommate... I moved in with the guys in Mynotalis Hall..."

                Dennis paled, stepping back a step. "......but...but..."

                Shaq gulped, focusing on Dennis again. "What does it matter, Dennis? You only have a few months of college left. It's your last year at Kingdom U. I just barely started. I'd have to find a new roommate anyway after you left, so I took the initiative and moved during spring break. You don't really care anyway. I'm just something to tease and make fun of. You have it all; I don't."

                Dennis sniffled and started walking off toward the front doors.

                After Dennis had departed Ycehart Hall, Rick growled and grabbed Shaq's collar, slapping him hard! "You damned fool! You have no idea what you've just done!"

                Shaq rolled with the slap, but remained in place thanks to Rick's grasp.

                Just then, Warneeri and Huckleberry were there. Instantly. Warneeri exclaimed, "Oh, that was so rich! What Shaq has done is killed Dennis. Quote, Dennis has it all... unquote. In a way, I guess he does have it all... including cancer... but Shaq never thought to ask. Poor Dennis who inherited the sickness from his currently deceased parents, and Shaq so callously throws mud in Dennis' face and abandons him. Way to go, Shaq..."

                It was now Shaq's turn to the realization of the events hit him like a ton of bricks.

                Huckleberry folded his arms over his chest. "Shaq, if you had an illness that killed your parents, what would you do to try to make your life better? I think you'd do the same thing Dennis was doing; play the clown and joke around with friends. Make himself the most popular guy he could be. Tease his best friend in the whole wide world."

                Rick released Shaq, and added, "...And now, you've taken all that away from him. And he's out there... alone... doing gods knows what... and you sent him there... I pray by Okali that he doesn't kill himself, or worse..."

                Shaq cried... "No... Dennis can't have cancer! He's too strong for that... he just can't... can't..."

                Everyone just stood there silently, looking at Shaq. Shaq could feel their gazes upon him, and it was not a good feeling, at all.

                Chapter 23

                Warneeri exclaimed softly, "It was all an act, Shaq. Dennis covered up his problems to make himself look strong. Rick is right, however... you took that all away from him... Dennis has nothing now... I saw this coming and did nothing... doing nothing makes me as bad as you, Shaq. But informing you of the consequences makes me better. The question now is... what will you do to remedy this problem?"

                Shaq sighed, looking at the floor. "I got to bring him back... maybe there's a cure... some way to purge the cancer out of Dennis... there has to be a way... Tell me there's a way... please... tell me..."

                Warneeri was very quiet; her thoughts were on Garla Canopyskimmer, priestess of Okali. "Shaq... there is a hope... but we'll need Dennis... before he does something stupid... if it's not too late..."

                Shaq cried, feeling like crap.

                Warneeri went over and explained to Zu`larr and Elizakat what was happening. Huckleberry got on the front desk phone and called campus security, telling them to be on the lookout for Dennis.

                Elizakat replied, "Oh no... if we had known... we wouldn't have pushed for Shaq to move out."

                Zu`larr said, "We're sorry, Warneeri. We'll do whatever we can to help Dennis."

                Huckleberry announced, "Bad news, guys. Security saw Dennis leaving campus about 5-10 minutes ago; he was in that car of his. I have a real bad feeling about this."

                Warneeri exclaimed, "Priority one, guys. We have to stop him. Driving is not something he needs to be doing just now."

                Rick spoke up. "We can take my new sports car... the one Jade's father gave me... and try to catch up with Dennis... make him stop..."

                Elizakat said, "We taurs will wait here on campus. We're not built for cars. We'll fetch Garla from the church and meet you guys at the campus hospital."

                Warneeri smiled. "Thank you, Elizakat. Okay, Rick let's go. You too, Shaq. This is your fault, so damned right, you're coming along."

                Even as Rick and the others were piling into the sports car, Warneeri knew that something bad was about to happen. Really bad. The worst she could possibly imagine.

                It took them only fifteen minutes out of the campus to catch up to Dennis, but it was too late... the scene before them was not a pretty one. Dennis' car had plowed into a tree off one side of the road, while on the other side of the road, another car had overturned into several trees and was on fire. Warneeri's worst fears had taken place.

                Chapter 24

                Everyone piled out of Rick's car, and split up between the two cars. Warneeri, Shaq and Elric went to check on Dennis, while Rick and Huckleberry went to see about pulling the other driver out of the burning car.

                Dennis was in his car, head still on the steering wheel. There was blood slowly dripping down the steering wheel, and Dennis himself was unconscious.

                At the other car, Rick recognized the license plate, as he and Huckleberry pulled the familiar, large, hulkingly muscular male wolf out of the overturned burning car. The two had just barely carried the big wolf to the highway, when the burning car exploded, not once, but four times.

                Warneeri glanced that way immediately, chanting a spell at the burning inferno: "OSHANUS' DELUGE!!!" The burning inferno was suddenly drenched with an enormous amount of sea water!

                Elric and Shaq were getting Dennis out of his own car and laid down on the grass, as Elric fetched his first aid kit.

                After trying to get the wolf's pulse, Rick sighed, looking at Huckleberry. "Von Stark is dead. I better go call the authorities and an ambulance." Rick returned to his car and used his cellphone to call 911.

                The scene became flooded with police skunks and medical personale after that...


                Down on the Uhtlicue estate... Coral sat there all in bandages from where Kameel had roughed her up while Kameel had been impersonating Franklin. When Franklin admitted that he knew that Coral and Jade were separate people, Coral handed over the gold locket that had belonged to Jade's mother.

                Jade smiled and gave the locket to Giovani saying, "I promise. No more gambling with Coral."

                Giovani hugged Jade fondly. "Tomorrow, you and Franklin return to Kingdom U. It's not such a bad college. You have some good friends there. However, tonight... we dance... Franklin can't wait to waltz with you."

                That night, Franklin was getting dressed up in his tuxedo.

                Kameel entered the room wearing Franklin's form. "Franklin... time to repay your debt to me."

                Later, Jade danced with 'Franklin', happily, then was surprised when 'Franklin' asked Jade if they could 'make out'. They entered Jade's bedroom, closing the door.

                Giovani entered Kameel's bedroom to bring Kameel some dinner, and instead of Kameel, he saw Franklin tied up and gagged, lying on the bed. "Oh my... So... Kameel _IS_ with Jade..."


                  Chapter 25

                  The next morning, Franklin was packing up Jade's customized caravan. Kameel was helping Franklin with the baggage and boxes of law books. Giovani was keeping his word by giving the law books to Franklin.

                  Franklin said, "I noticed that Jade was sick this morning. Are you sure she's okay for driving?"

                  Kameel grinned. "You'll be driving, Franklin. And that was morning sickness... but don't tell Jade that... I got Jade pregnant last night." Kameel winked.

                  Franklin grinned back. "Better you than me."

                  Kameel stopped and patted Franklin's shoulder. "I did it in your form. Once she finds out what's wrong with her, she'll wrongly assume that you're the father. But you and I both know that it's impossible for you to be the father."

                  Franklin said, "Huh? Impossible? Why is it impossible? Not that I am disappointed or anything..."

                  Kameel grinned. "You're warm blooded. Your genetic markers make you completely incompatiable with Jade no matter how many times you both made love. Jade is cold blooded, like me. The only one who can get her pregnant is literally me. And I did."

                  Franklin laughed! "And you're NOT going to tell her?"

                  Kameel chuckled, resuming his packing of the caravan. "And give her a reason to kill me? No thanks. I'll tell her via telephone."

                  They both laughed some more, as they finished packing up the caravan.

                  Jade said her goodbyes to her father, then came outside. "Franklin... I want to apologize for letting Coral talk me into that stupid bet, and for my letting Coral hurt you during your stay. It won't happen again."

                  Franklin petted Jade's chin. "Such a pretty face shouldn't look so glum, Jade. I'll be driving us back so you can rest. I am just sorry you smell like turpentine, currently."

                  Jade had to smile at that. "Turpentine is the least of my worries. At least the stripe is gone."

                  Kameel hugged Jade tightly, kissing her muzzle gently, petting Jade's chin as Franklin had.

                  Once Franklin and Jade were once again on the road, Jade turned to Franklin and asked, "You didn't dance with me last night, did you?"

                  Franklin shot Jade a glance and grinned. "Nope." Then, Franklin resumed driving.

                  Chapter 26

                  Smokey arrived at Rodney and Toby's place in time to hear Rodney begging.

                  Rodney was saying, "Come on, love. Where's the key?"

                  Rodney's nephew, Nestor, whimpered, saying, "My wrists hurt, uncle Rodney!"

                  Toby remained sitting on the couch, watching TV. "Forget it, Rodney. You and Nestor stay like that until your brother comes to get Nestor."

                  Smokey knocked on the door, as he entered the apartment. "I got your message on the machine, Toby. What's up?"

                  Toby glanced at Smokey and grinned.

                  Rodney and Nestor handcuffed together, back to back, with collar-linkers keeping the two coyote's heads right against each other. Rodney and Nestor were both seated on the floor, cross-legged, with their tails between each other's legs, and duct-taped to their crossed ankles.

                  Smokey said, "Oh. I am guessing that they broke some things, didn't they?"

                  Rodney then said, "Smokey! Please... convince Toby to free us. Nestor is hurting like this."

                  Smokey glanced at Toby and exclaimed, "This is really low, Toby. I can see you doing this to Rodney because he might deserve it 90% of the time, but not to a kid. Give me the key!"

                  Toby sighed. "I can't. I don't have the key anymore."

                  Rodney and Nestor both shouted. "WHAT?!"

                  Smokey lifted Toby up off the couch in one paw. "What did you do with it?"

                  Toby frowned, replying, "I mailed it to Rodney's brother this morning. That's why I said they'd have to stay like that until Rodney's brother came to get Nestor."

                  Smokey growled and dropped Toby back on the couch. "I'll get the cutters. Can't you see the kid is in pain?" Smokey went to retrieve the cutters, returning soon afterwards and kneeling next to Nestor first.

                  Toby sighed. "I'm sorry. But they kept breaking things that are important to me... some items that can't be replaced. I was mad, Smokey. I didn't mean to hurt the kid. Honest."

                  Smokey worked for several minutes, then sat back with a puzzled look. "Toby? What are these handcuffs made out of? The cutters don't seem to have any effect on them."

                  Toby sighed again, saying, "It's a new titanium alloy. We'll need the key."

                  Chapter 27

                  An hour later, Smokey had Jack Carlos at Rodney's place, working on the handcuffs. Jack, after having heard the silly explanation, agreed to give it a go.

                  Toby had gone into his bedroom to lie down. He had said he wasn't feeling well.

                  As Jack carefully worked, he said, "What's your name, kid? I'm Jack Carlos."

                  Nestor whimpered, and replied, "Nes...Nestor... I'm... Nestor..."

                  Jack grinned. "Relax, Nestor. I won't bite. I'm one of the good guys!"

                  Nestor cried a little more. "My... my wrists... hurt..."

                  Jack awed. "And how do you think Toby felt every time you and Rodney broke his stuff? Toby was hurt too. He was hurt so much that he went and did this to you guys. I remember when Toby's mom gave him that crystal bowl. It had sentimental value. You surely wouldn't feel grand if a complete stranger came and broke all of your most favorite things, would you? This is just me, but I think that you owe uncle Toby an apology."

                  Nestor sniffled and nodded his head slightly.

                  Jack kept working with his dingo paws, and...

                  CLICK! THUNK!

         pair of the handcuffs hit the floor!

                  Nestor immediately held his wrist up in front of his muzzle. "It's off!"

                  Jack peaked around Nestor's head and licked Nestor's nose. "Told you I could do it. Now, let me work on the other one." Jack moved around to the other side and got to work again.

                  Rodney smiled. "Thank you, Jack. I really owe you for this."

                  Jack grinned again. "What are college buddies for? We help each other.

                  Several more minutes later, another rewarding CLICK and THUNK were heard.

                  Jack whew'ed and helped the two get out of the duct-tape. "All handcuffs are generally made the same way. You guys aren't the first one's I've had to help like this."

                  Soon, both coyotes were free. Rodney swept Jack up in a fond hug!!! Nestor entered Toby's bedroom and saw the tiger, crying on the bed.

                  Nestor approached slowly, and said, "Uncle Toby? I'm sorry I broke your stuff."


                    Chapter 28

                    They say that your life flashes before your eyes two minutes before you die, and you are forced the watch the whole movie. He remembered driving along the highway. He remembered seeing the other car driving down the center right toward him.

                    But now... all was dark.

                    If this was death, then how come he felt as if he were still alive?

                    Then, he heard a faint voice. A very familiar voice.

                    Shaq asked the doctor, "There's been no change?"

                    The Tazmanian Wolf doctor replied, "You know something? I am getting sick and tired of you and him being in my hospital. First, it was you. Now, it's him. I don't have to put up with this. Personally, I think you're both crazy." The doctor took a short breath and released it. "Dennis Andrews is still unresponsive. Though if he does awaken, he'll be seeing a lot of jail time. The police skunks were telling me that this is a furslaughter case. Dennis lived; the other driver died. I am sure there will be an investigation, but your friend is going to need one Hell of a lawyer. And I don't know anyone like that."

                    Shaq whimpered. "...Dennis..."

                    The other driver died?
                    Oh no... this couldn't be happening... not now...

                    Why couldn't he wake up?

                    The doctor then said, "I'm going to have to ask you to leave now, Shaquil Pernardo. He needs time to heal and awaken. Go home. Go on. Scoot."

                    Shaq was choked. "I'll be back every day. You can't keep me from seeing him. You can't. I need him. I need Dennis..."

                    The doctor escorted Shaq out of the hospital room.

                    Poor Shaq, Dennis thought to himself.
                    He's going to blame himself for this.
                    How could I have been so stupid?

                    Then, Dennis felt a hand on his shoulder.

                    Franklin exclaimed quietly, "You're in a real mess, Dennis. But there's hope. I'm going to take your case and somehow prove that you were not at fault. I know you can hear me. I am afraid that your life is going to be different from now on. Even if you are cleared of cancer and this accident... you will barely be able to graduate from college. The doctor told me that your eyes were damaged in the accident. Dennis... you're awake... except... you're blind."

                    Chapter 29

                    Lindsay and Joey quietly entered Ycehart Hall. It was as quiet as a morgue.

                    Joey remarked, "This is spooky, Lindsay. What 'appened?"

                    Lindsay shrugged and stopped in at the front desk. "Hello. Joey and I are back from Spring Break. We need our keys, please."

                    The male cheetah desk clerk sadly looked up at Lindsay, as he handed over the keys. "You haven't heard, have you?"

                    Lindsay arched an eye at the cheetah. "No... I guess we haven't. What's going on?"

                    Joey said, "Yeah, it's like the black unicorn of death is on the prowl."

                    The cheetah sighed, replying, "There was an automobile accident. Von Stark got killed. The other driver is in the hospital."

                    Lindsay hummed. "Von Stark... he was that wolf at the gym I vaguely met my first day on campus. And what about the other driver. Who is it?"

                    The cheetah sighed again. "It was Dennis. Shaq's over there right now trying to find out something. Why did it have to be Dennis?" The cheetah lay his muzzle into his arms and cried.

                    Lindsay wasn't sure what to do about it. So, Lindsay and Joey got into the elevator, together.

                    Joey finally said, "This is a sad 'omecoming, mate. Dennis is in the 'ospital. Von Stark is dead. And Shaq is grieving, most likely."

                    Lindsay nodded his head. "I hope this return to Kingdom U doesn't get any more like a soap opera. I was hoping for a nice quiet return and some snuggling with friends."

                    As Lindsay and Joey entered their dorm room, 305, they both came to a sudden halt. Sitting across the living room at a desk where Shaq would've been stationed was Elric, the hellhound that had traded dorms with Shaq. In the kitchen part of the dorm, a tall dark-furred male rat was making a homemade pizza.

                    Joey exclaimed, "Who da 'ell ar' you guys? Why ar' yas in our dorm?"

                    Elric glanced over and smiled, his eyes glowing. "I am Elric Whitepaw. Shaq and I traded dorms during Spring Break. He told me all about you guys."

                    The rat grinned from the kitchen, speaking with a british accent. "'ello guvs. I am Bram Quigly. Kingdom U Housing Authority told me that Dennis Andrews would be in the hospital, and likely in jail, for the next 2-3 months, and because I was on the waiting list for a dorm room, they allowed me to move in here. I love to cook, so I'll make sure we all eat good."

                    Chapter 30

                    Lindsay said, "Oh. I see. Yeah... I guess Dennis is in a heck of a bind. Dammit... this doesn't make any sense... why can't Dennis and Shaq stay out of trouble for even two weeks?"

                    Elric grinned. "Rick and his sister Becky were marooned on a desert isle for the last week. Coast guard had to rescue them."

                    Joey had to smirk at that. "Ah kin jus' see Rick on an island."

                    Bram exclaimed, "And Colin attended a tea ceremony with Yeo and Kama. He must be getting all spiritual on us."

                    Elric nodnodded his head. "Funniest news is that Rudolph and Gusto have been doing a 'stay-awake' contest for the past two weeks. The loser has to go to classes on all fours for two weeks."

                    Lindsay rolled his eyes at that one. "Those two... will be a bundle of nerves when that bet ends."

                    Joey giggles. "Any other news?"

                    Bram said, "Duma and Aiden returned from Aiden's hometown. They seemed a lot closer together, yet at the same time, further apart."

                    Lindsay nodded his head. "That is one love-triangle that I am glad to NOT be part of. They have it off bad enough."

                    Just then, there was a knock at the door. Joey turned around and opened the door.

                    Standing there was Cordelia Tennyson. "May I see Lindsday please? In private."

                    Lindsay and Cordelia entered Lindsay's bedroom and closed the door.

                    Bram and Elric were both agape.

                    Joey just grinned.

                    Bram coughed a little. "Lindsay IS quite the catch, isn't he?" He sighed heavily. "I wish I had seen him first."

                    Joey entered the kitchen. "e's a very good friend, mate. 'e likes lots of people, though he dates Cordelia on and off."

                    Elric grins. "Cordelia acts as if she doesn't know that Lindsay is human."

                    Bram said, "Lindsay's human? Wow, I guess I'll learn more about him, as we're bunked together."

                    Stay tuned for the next episode, DT-05 Rough Diamonds

                    Name: Elric Whitepaw
                    Age: 18
                    Species: Hellhound
                    Height: 5'11"
                    Weight: 148 lbs
                    Major: Computer Sciences
                    Blood Type: A-
                    Likes: Ceremonies, Martial Arts, Acupuncture, TPS (Theoretical Prediction Sciences)
                    Dislikes: None at this time (this can be ammended if you get on his bad side)

                    Name: Bram Quigly
                    Age: 18
                    Species: Rat
                    Height: 6'3"
                    Weight: 169 lbs
                    Major: Catering Specialist
                    Blood Type: B
                    Likes: Food, Drinks, Desserts, Mud Wrestling, Sewer Surfing, Rock Music
                    Dislikes: Other Rats, Pascifists, Misinformed People, Tricksters

                    Send all inquiries to Darrel at:

                    Permission to use the ClosetCoon characters of Aiden, Colin, Rick, Becky, Toby, Rodney and Duma were given by LeafDog prior to writing this story. The ClosetCoon characters are all copyright 2003 by LeafDog. All rights are reserved.